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Covid Pandemic and the Holidays getting to you?

Try these 4 Tips to Find Joy this Holiday Season

Many of us will be dealing with stress and disappointment with changes in holiday plans due to Covid this year. It can be hard to know what plans or even to feel motivated to do any activity for the holidays during the pandemic. Stress, frustration, and disappointment are feelings many of us are having this time of year, especially as we enter the season.

The following are some tips to cope with stress and disappointment and find some JOY this holiday season.

Don’t wait ‘til the Last Minute

Many of us are unsure what the Covid case numbers will look like in the weeks ahead. Even though we need to be flexible, we should be careful with the “wait and see” or a “play it by ear” philosophy. Often this creates more frustration, stress, and disappointment when last-minute plans are changing.

This is especially difficult for children, as it does not give them the time to sort through their feelings. Let your children know early on what the new plan is. This allows you the time to help them cope and come up with strategies to adapt to the changes.

You can help your child feel less stress and frustration by creating predictability; outline early on what the new plan will be. Have difficult conversations with family members, early on, about forgoing the extended family get-together or changing the routine and having a social distant event outdoors.

Acknowledge and Validate Feelings

Many parents have feelings of guilt about their children being disappointed this year. Allow yourself and your child to grieve the losses experienced due to Covid. Missed holidays with extended family, birthdays, graduation ceremonies, dances, playdates, sporting events, and even the opportunity for freedom and independence from parents that teens and young adults are feeling, are the reality for many of us during this time. Acknowledge the loss, without feeling the need to fix or solve the problem, as difficult as it can be for a parent.

Be sure to acknowledge your own feelings of disappointment by sharing with a trusted friend, spouse, or family member. Talking about our feelings gives us a chance to let it out. Hopefully, you can share with someone that can offer empathy and support by listening and sharing their similar feelings. We tend to feel better when we know we are not the only ones feeling this way during these challenging times! Seek the support of loved ones in your life right now if you are feeling down or stressed.

Don’t brush off your children’s feelings with positivity without allowing them to a chance to express their feelings. You can validate their feelings of stress, anger, or frustration by saying, “That makes you mad that we have changed plans. It’s okay that you feel frustrated.”

For younger children, getting out some crayons or markers and having your children express their feelings with drawings is a good way to let out those feelings. Depending on the age of the child, verbal expression of feelings is not accessible, and this can be a great outlet. Adults can benefit from this activity as well!

Make Small Adjustments

We are all having to adjust our routines and give up traditions that are meaningful to us. This can be especially disappointing for children and children with ADHD or ASD. Making some small adjustments can lift your family’s mood.

Put on some of your favorite family-friendly music in the kitchen and get the children involved in age-appropriate cooking activities. If you aren’t entertaining, it’s a perfect time to let little hands help out. They will love to be a part of the fun!

Instead of going to the annual holiday party, make a big deal about family movie night with traditional treats or special meals.

Include extended family members in a “Holiday Zoom Party” showing off your Ugly Christmas sweaters! Look into the drive-thru holiday events held in your area and gather some friends for a caravan to get out and have some fun.

Try to take the focus off your own disappointment and make the best of the new plan for the holiday. Role modeling positivity, finding joy in a less-than-optimal situation, and expressing gratitude for the positive things we have will help your child shift their attitude toward change!

This Isn’t Forever!

While this year’s events have piled on the stress and pushed us to our limits on having to accept change, deal with uncertainty, isolate from friends, families, and abandon treasured activities, remind yourself that it is not going to be this way forever. The sacrifices and the changes we make now are temporary and actually build our endurance and resiliency.

Be sure to let your children know this after they have had space to speak freely and express their feelings. Having something to look forward to is a great way to lift your and your family’s spirits as well. Start planning a doable vacation or family road trip in the future to take your mind off the sacrifices that are being made this holiday season. Finding joy this holiday season is possible, take deep breathes, be kind to yourself, and try to help others you encounter!

For more ways to relieve stress check out Four Tips To Calm Anxiety, and please seek the help of a mental health professional during this time if you feel you need more support. We are here to serve you!